The cathedral church at Dadivank Monastery is packed.
The Armenian mantra, or sharagan, used during the Holy Mass, is particularly depressing this Sunday – a beautiful leased voice that fills the small dome space as church members wipe away tears.
Maybe they lost loved ones in this war. Perhaps they will regret the defeat of their nation.
It may be sad that this holy place for Armenian Christians will go into the hands of Azerbaijan on Wednesday.
The medieval monastery complex in Dadiwang is actually theirs.
“This is our tradition, and we must take care of it,” said Sona Kachturian, a visitor from the Armenian capital, Yerevan.
“Unfortunately it will become part of Azerbaijan. It’s painful, but I do not want to say goodbye because I’m sure I’ll be back.”
The Russian triangular flag flies at the entrance to the monastery complex.
A Russian tank sits in the yard, the barrel pointing to oncoming traffic.
Azerbaijan has promised continued access to Dadiwang and other religious sites for Armenian Christians.
The Russians have come here to make sure their word is kept.
“The Azerbaijanis are not Turks, but they are behaving like them,” said Father Schmவன்n, who came from Yerevan to help manage the service.
“The Ottoman Turks promised that everything would be all right, but when the young Turks came to power they started the Armenian Genocide.
“There were many promises that the Aliyev dynasty started in Haider and ended with Ilham Aliyev, but they did not keep their promises.”
The deportation and massacre of about 1.5 million ethnic Armenians during the fall of the Ottoman Empire will never heal the Armenians and large Armenian immigrants.
It was Pokemon in the wartime rhetoric of Prime Minister Nicole Bashinian.
Turkey and Azerbaijan are the only two states that refuse to recognize genocide.
It is not surprising that Father Shmavan did not believe in their promises.
Now the fear and language of cultural genocide is re-emerging.
Much of Armenia’s cultural heritage was destroyed when Western Armenia invaded Turkey in the first half of the 20th century.
With the regional losses resulting from this war, Armenia is pressing again.
These ancient sites are impressive for their retreat. When Kalpajar was in the hands of Azerbaijan during Soviet times, the locals kept their cattle in the Dadiwang monastery.
The layer of suite helped to preserve the underlying 12th-century paintings from the fire they burned, which only emerged during renovations in the early 1990s.
We decide to visit the 4th century monastery complex in Amaras.
It is still under Armenian control, but is located in the southeastern corner of Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azerbaijan has recaptured large tracts of territory. It is isolated and dangerous.
The small white church in its center is surrounded by thick, reinforced walls. When Eastern Armenia was under Russian control in the 19th century, Amaras was a frontier fort.
Now again it is a militarized zone. The Azerbaijani levels are about three kilometers from the top of the mountain on the horizon.
The Russian flag flies over the towers, but an Armenian faction is now stationed here. The entrance is through a hole in the wall.
Soldiers barbecue a pig and invite him to eat with them inside the fortified walls. There is no electricity, so we eat by the light of our mobile phones.
“You wonder if I eat at a table because all my friends are still in the trenches,” says Arthak Hovennesian.
“If you stand in this monastery and look to the right, the left and the trenches are full behind.”
The Russian peacekeepers have an initial mandate of five years, but it will most likely be extended.
Despite their existence, both sides must keep their trenches human. When this conflict freezes again, this kind of military effort is needed to maintain the new status quo.